We are our worst critics aren’t we? At times there will be others who will say things that criticise us but we are our worst critics of all. Nobody knows me more than I do, nobody knows my deep insecurities, pride, ego and desires more than me. It’s like we carry this referee around with us and every time we fail or make mistakes, they blow the whistle in our heads and shout foul.
When we look in the mirror most of us don’t see something we love, we see all the imperfections. I’ve recently spotted my first, pure, white hair appear in my beard. All the rest are still brown but the one stands out every time I look in the mirror. We can’t help but be our own judge, pointing out our white hairs and blowing the whistle… Foul!
In 2 Cor 5:17 we are told that because of Jesus we are now new creations. Are you kidding St Paul, I don’t feel like a new creation, in fact I feel like a old creation getting older?
I was recently looking at 1 Cor 13 with some friends. We got to the section “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. As we read this list of what love looks like the general consensus was, are you kidding St Paul? We read that list and just feel guilty for not being any of those things. I don’t feel patient when the kids are arguing, I don’t feel kind when I’m in a hurry, I often struggle with being easily angered and I’m pretty good at writing long lists of those who have wronged me.
And all I hear is the whistle blow and the referee shouting…. Foul.
I feel like I spend more time in the sin bin than actually playing well for the team and have more red cards from the referee than is natural.
If it is right that we are told we are being changed into the likeness of Jesus each day, I don’t see it happening that quick.
As the great poet once said “I’m starting with the man the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could be any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change”. Yes, Michael Jackson the great American poet. Like many in the world Michael thought that the way to change himself was to look in the mirror and then get on with changing. I’m not sure that self-help stuff really works. No matter how hard I try, I don’t seem to change the deep stuff.
I recently realised something, to be this ‘new creation’ I need to stop gazing upon my faults and gaze more upon Jesus. I need to not look at my faults and want to correct them, but look more on him.
The reality is we become more like what we are looking at. If we spend hours looking at ourselves, all we are doing is perpetuating our faults. But if we are looking at Jesus then we can become more like him.
St Paul was a man who realised all of this more than anyone else. He knew that it was only by grace that we can ever become anything else. The new creation is because of grace and grace alone. In Col 3:3 he writes that because of Jesus and his grace we are now hidden in him. Which means when we look in the mirror rather than seeing our faults and white hairs, we see Jesus. We’re not finished, there is work to be done. But our task is to look past ourselves, to Jesus.